Surely one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks, for more than 1,400 years a cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. St Paul’s Cathedral embodies the spiritual life and heritage of the British people. Frequently at the centre of national events throughout the centuries, traditions have been observed here and radical new ideas have found expression under the iconic dome. In many cases these events have left some physical record as well as echoes in the intangible memory of the building.
The present cathedral is the masterpiece of Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, but it is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. This was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Crown took control of the life of the church. St Paul’s is home to the tombs of many key British figures, including John Donne (1572–1631), the poet and clergyman who, after a raffish youth, went on to become Dean of St Paul’s from 1621 until his death. Two of Britain’s most distinguished military commanders of the Napoleonic Wars were commemorated with state funerals here (and later, monuments were installed on the church floor): Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1806 and Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington in 1852, both of whom are interred in the cathedral crypt. St Paul’s has seen an incredible amount of famous faces in recent years too; Dr Martin Luther King stopped at St Paul’s to speak from the west steps en route to collect his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and in 2012 the Dalai Lama was welcomed to receive the Templeton prize. Royal weddings and anniversaries have frequently been celebrated at St Paul’s, including the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service for Queen Victoria in 1897, the wedding of HRH the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and Queen Elizabeth II’s Gold and Diamond Jubilees.
Visitors today can explore the breathtaking interior, take a touchscreen multimedia tour, visit the crypt and enjoy meals and snacks in the restaurant. Guided tours and group rates are available.
T: 020 7246 8357
The Houses of Parliament, always a popular attraction with group visitors to London, is opening its doors during the February half-term holiday week with additional tours between Tuesday 18th and Friday 21st February. Tours are also available every Saturday. On a ‘Blue Badge’ guided tour of Parliament, visitors follow in the footsteps of historical figures from the past one thousand years, and experience first-hand the Lords and Commons Chambers where the important issues of the day continue to be hotly debated. Other highlights include the Queen’s Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, Central Lobby and Members’ Lobby.
Tours end in Westminster Hall, which in the past has witnessed major trials and coronation banquets. In more recent years Westminster Hall is the place where distinguished figures including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi have delivered landmark speeches.
English language tours run at 15 minute intervals throughout the day between 9.15am and 4.30pm. Tours in Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian are offered at various times on all opening days. Groups of ten or more can save up to 45% on the full adult price; please contact to make a group booking.
T: 0844 8472498